MGM sez offer to move pic was inadequate

MGM insisted on having the last word in the fracas over the title for the third installment of the “Austin Powers” franchise.

On Friday, MGM released a statement claiming that New Line co- chairman and co-CEO Michael Lynne and production president Toby Emmerich approached MGM execs on Jan. 18 and offered to move the release date of New Line’s “John Q” if it would resolve the “Goldmember” title dispute.

The Motion Picture Assn. of America ruled Thursday that New Line could not use the title “Austin Powers in Goldmember” because New Line began using the title while MGM’s petition to ban it was still in play at the MPAA. Daily Variety and other outlets reported that the “John Q” offer was initiated by MGM.

“Contrary to press reports and statements that have been made by New Line, (the “John Q”) offer was initiated by New Line, not MGM, and was rejected by MGM as being inadequate consideration for what New Line had done,” said Jay Rakow, senior exec VP and general counsel of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

New Line has never made a statement to the press about any “John Q”/”Goldmember” scenario. On Friday, New Line responded to MGM’s announcement by referring to a previous statement made about losing the “Goldmember” battle: “The appeal process has come to a close, and though New Line is disappointed by the MPAA’s decision, we will abide by it. We remain committed to our filmmaker’s vision and are moving forward.”

Promos not primo

MGM also said that New Line offered the promotional services of “Austin Powers” creator and star Mike Myers, including a promotion of the ABC telecast of the 1964 James Bond pic “Goldfinger,” and offering to attach trailers of the forthcoming Bond film to the “Austin Powers” film and the next installment of “Lord of the Rings.”

For MGM, only money talked: The statement outlined that MGM “would not resolve its dispute with New Line in the absence of a substantial cash license payment by New Line at levels comparable to what the Bond films customarily command from promotional partners.”

It remains to be seen whether the MPAA will levy a fine for New Line’s infraction: The cost for using a title that has not completed the approval gauntlet is steep, ranging as high as $25,000 for each trailer released with the title. Any fine assessed by the MPAA would be paid by New Line to MGM and its partners in the James Bond franchise.

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